The Seven Sorrows Novena By St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
Day Nine Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Sorrows
V/. O God +, come to my assistance R/. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Gloria Patri …
Let intercession be made for us, we beseech Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, now and at the hour of our death, before the throne of Thy mercy, by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy Mother, whose most holy soul was pierced by a sword of sorrow in the hour of Thy bitter Passion. Through Thee, Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost lives and reigns, world without end. Amen
Reflection (St Alphonsus de Liguori)
Meditation: Consider the meeting of the Son and the Mother, which took place on this journey. Jesus and Mary looked at each other and their looks became as so many arrows to wound those hearts which loved each other so tenderly. My most loving Jesus, by the sorrow Thou didst experience in this meeting, grant me the grace of a truly devoted love for Thy most holy Mother. And thou, my Queen, who wast overwhelmed with sorrow, obtain for me, by thy intercession, a continual and tender remembrance of the Passion of thy Son.
Closing Prayers V/. Pray for us, O Virgin most sorrowful R/. That we may be made be worthy of the promises of Christ.
Ave Maria …
Prayer of St Alphonsus: O afflicted Virgin! O soul, great in virtues and great also in sorrows! for both arise from that great fire of love thou hast for God; thou “whose heart can love nothing but God”; O Mother, have pity on me, for I have not loved God and I have so much offended Him. Thy sorrows give me great confidence to hope for pardon. But this is not enough; I wish to love my Lord and who can better obtain this for me than thou, thou who art the Mother of fair love? O Mary, thou dost console all, comfort me also. Amen
Thought for the Day – 15 September – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Mary’s Patience 2
“We also have our share of suffering and humiliation. It is useless to try and escape from it, useless to rebel against it. If we embrace the cross patiently and lovingly, a Jesus and Mary did, it will seem lighter, even welcome. If we attempt to cast it from us, it will weigh more heavily on our shoulders. There are two kinds of men, those who bear their cross, patiently and embrace it because they wish to be like Jesus and, those who do not want to suffer and rebel. The former may stagger beneath their daily burden but, they have peace of soul because they are putting into practice, the great Gospel precept: “By your patience, you will win your souls” (Lk 21:19). They know that they are on the path to Heaven and this thought is consolation, which cannot be taken from them. The second group of men, rebel against the cross and, therefore, suffer doubly, in body and in soul. “The senseless man,” the Holy Spirit says, “loves not to be reproved” (Prov 15:12).
To which of these two categories do we belong? Do we love our cross, or do we carry it patiently, at least? Anyone who does not want the cross, does not want Jesus. Let the example of Mary and of the Saints inspire us. They always bore their burden patiently, they even looked for suffering and humiliation. If we cannot reach such heroic heights, let us at last, accept, from the hands of Our Lord, the cross which He offers us. Let us accept the sufferings which we meet on the way of life. If we are not heroic enough to seek to be unknown and mortified, let us resolve to accept, patiently, the inevitable sorrows of life.”
Quote/s of the Day – 15 September – The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows and of St Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510)
‘By the cross of our salvation Mary stood in desolation While the Saviour hung above All her human powers failing, Sorrow’s sword, at last prevailing, Stabs and breaks her heart of love… Virgin Mary, full of sorrow, From your love I ask to borrow Love enough to share your pain. Make my heart to burn with fire, Make Christ’s love my own desire, Who for love of me was slain.’
“The spear which opened His side passed through the soul of the Virgin, which could not be torn from the heart of Jesus.”
St Bernard (1090-1153) Mellifluous Doctor of the Church
“Whoever you are, who love the Mother of God, take note and reflect with all your innermost feelings, upon her, who wept for the Only-Begotten as He died… The grief she felt in the Passion of her son, goes beyond all understanding.”
St Amadeus of Lausanne (1108-1159)
“Near the cross stood His mother, speechless; living she died; dying she lived.”
“Any time spent before the Eucharistic presence, be it long or short, is the best-spent time of our lives.”
“We must not wish anything other than what happens from moment to moment, all the while, however, exercising ourselves in goodness.”
“And when I hear it said, that God is good and He will pardon us and then see, that men cease not from evil-doing, oh, how it grieves me! The infinite goodness with which God communicates with us, sinners as we are, should constantly make us love and serve Him better but we, on the contrary, instead of seeing in His goodness an obligation to please Him, convert it into an excuse for sin, which will, of a certainty, lead in the end, to our deeper condemnation.”
“The one sole thing, in myself, in which I glory, is that I see in myself, nothing, in which I can glory.”
“Oh, what peril attaches to sin, wilfully committed! For it is so difficult for man to bring himself to penance and without penitence, guilt remains and will ever remain, so long as man retains unchanged, the will to sin, or is intent upon committing it.”
“I see clearly with the interior eye, that the sweet God loves, with a pure love, the creature that He has created and has a HATRED for nothing but SIN, which is more opposed to Him, than can be thought or imagined.”
“Near the cross of Jesus, there stood his mother…” … John 19:25
REFLECTION – “Mary, the mother of the Lord, stood by her Son’s cross. No-one has taught me this but the holy Evangelist John. Others have related how the earth was shaken at the Lord’s passion, the sky was covered with darkness, the sun withdrew itself and how the thief was, after a faithful confession, received into paradise. John tells us what the others have not told, how the Lord, while fixed on the cross called to His mother. He thought it was more important that, victorious over His sufferings, Jesus gave her the offices of piety, than that He gave her a heavenly kingdom. For, if it is the mark of religion to grant pardon to the thief, it is a mark of much greater piety, that a mother is honoured with such affection by her Son. “Behold,” He says, “your son.” “Behold your mother.” Christ testified from the cross and divided the offices of piety, between the mother and the disciple.
Nor was Mary below what was becoming of the mother of Christ. When the Apostles fled, she stood at the cross and with pious eyes beheld her Son’s wounds. For she did not look to the death of her offspring but to the salvation of the world. Or perhaps, because that “royal hall” knew that the redemption of the world would be through the death of her Son, she thought that by her death, she also might add something to that universal gift. But Jesus did not need a helper for the redemption of all, who saved all without a helper. This is why He says, “I am counted among those who go down to the pit. I am like those who have no help.” He received indeed the affection of His mother but sought not another’s help. Imitate her, holy mothers, who in her only dearly beloved Son, set forth so great an example of maternal virtue. For neither have you sweeter children, nor did the Virgin seek the consolation of being able, to bear another son.” … St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church – Letter 63
PRAYER – Our Father, when Jesus Your Son, was raised up on the Cross, it was Your will that Mary, His Mother, should stand there and suffer with Him in her heart. Grant that in union with her, the Church may share in the passion of Christ and so be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Be our intercessor and our consolation, Our Lady of Sorrows, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 15 September – The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
O Mother of Sorrows, Stand by Me in My Last Agony By St Gabriel Francis Possenti of Our Lady of Sorrows (1838-1862)
O Mother of Sorrows, by the anguish and love with which thou did stand at the Cross of Jesus, stand by me in my last agony. To thy maternal heart I commend the last three hours of my life. Offer these hours to the Eternal Father in union with the agony of our dearest Lord, in atonement for my sins. Offer to the Eternal Father the most precious blood of Jesus, mingled with your tears on Calvary, that I may obtain the grace of receiving Holy Communion with the most perfect love and contrition before my death and that I may breathe forth my soul in the adorable presence of Jesus. Dearest Mother, when the moment of my death has at last come, present me as your child to Jesus. Ask Him to forgive me for having offended Him, for I knew not what I did. Beg Him to receive me into His kingdom of glory to be united with Him forever. Amen
Saint of the Day – 15 September – St Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) Married laywoman, Mystic, Apostle of the sick, the poor and the needy, Writer – born in 1447 at Genoa, Italy as Caterina Fieschi Adorno and died on 15 September 1510 at Genoa, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – Brides, Childless People, Difficult Marriages, People Ridiculed For Their Piety, Temptations, Victims Of Adultery, Victims Of Unfaithfulness, Widow, Hospitals in Italy (declared by Venerable Pope Pius XII). Her body is incorrupt and rests in a glass reliquary at the Capuchin Church in Genoa.
Catherine was born in Genoa in 1447. She was the youngest of five. Her father, Giacomo Fieschi, died when she was very young. Her mother, Francesca di Negro provided such an effective Christian education that the elder of her two daughters became a religious. When Catherine was 16, she was given in marriage to Giuliano Adorno, a man who after various trading and military experiences in the Middle East had returned to Genoa in order to marry.
Married life was far from easy for Catherine, partly because of the character of her husband who was given to gambling. Catherine herself, was at first induced to lead a worldly sort of life in which, however, she failed to find serenity. After 10 years, her heart was heavy with a deep sense of emptiness and bitterness. A unique experience on 20 March 1473 sparked her conversion. She had gone to the Church of San Benedetto in the monastery of Nostra Signora delle Grazie [Our Lady of Grace], to make her confession and, kneeling before the Priest, “received,” as she herself wrote, “a wound in my heart from God’s immense love.” It came with such a clear vision of her own wretchedness and shortcomings and at the same time of God’s goodness, that she almost fainted.
Her heart was moved by this knowledge of herself — knowledge of the empty life she was leading and of the goodness of God. This experience prompted the decision that gave direction to her whole life. She expressed it in the words: “no longer the world, no longer sin” (cf. Vita Mirabile, 3rv). Catherine did not stay to make her Confession. On arriving home she entered the remotest room and spent a long time weeping. At that moment she received an inner instruction on prayer and became aware of God’s immense love for her, a sinner. It was a spiritual experience she had no words to describe ( cf. Vita Mirabile, 4r).
It was on this occasion that the suffering Jesus appeared to her, bent beneath the Cross, as he is often portrayed in the Saint’s iconography. A few days later she returned to the Priest to make a good Confession at last. It was here, that began the “life of purification” which for many years caused her to feel constant sorrow for the sins she had committed and which spurred her to impose forms of penance and sacrifice upon herself, in order to show her love to God.
On this journey Catherine became ever closer to the Lord until she attained what is called “unitive life,” namely, a relationship of profound union with God. In her Vita it is written, that her soul was guided and instructed from within, solely by the sweet love of God, which gave her all she needed. Catherine surrendered herself so totally into the hands of the Lord that she lived, for about 25 years, as she wrote, “without the assistance of any creature, taught and governed by God alone” (Vita, 117r-118r), nourished above all by constant prayer and by Holy Communion which she received every day, an unusual practice in her time. Only many years later did the Lord give her a Priest who cared for her soul.
Catherine was always reluctant to confide and reveal her experience of mystical communion with God, especially because of the deep humility she felt before the Lord’s graces. The prospect of glorifying Him and of being able to contribute to the spiritual journey of others, alone spurred her, to recount what had taken place within her, from the moment of her conversion, which is her original and fundamental experience.
The place of her ascent to mystical peaks was Pammatone Hospital, the largest hospital complex in Genoa, of which she was director and animator. Hence Catherine lived a totally active existence despite the depth of her inner life. In Pammatone a group of followers, disciples and collaborators formed around her, fascinated by her life of faith and her charity. Indeed her husband, Giuliano Adorno, was so so won over, that he gave up his dissipated life, became a Third Order Franciscan and moved into the hospital to help his wife.
Catherine’s dedication to caring for the sick continued until the end of her earthly life on 15 September 1510. From her conversion until her death there were no extraordinary events but two elements characterise her entire life – on the one hand her mystical experience, that is, the profound union with God, which she felt as spousal union and on the other, assistance to the sick, the organisation of the hospital and service to her neighbour, especially the neediest and the most forsaken. These two poles, God and neighbour, totally filled her life, virtually all of which she spent within the hospital walls.
Dear friends, we must never forget that the more we love God and the more constantly we pray, the better we will succeed in truly loving those who surround us, who are close to us, so that we can see in every person the Face of the Lord whose love knows no bounds and makes no distinctions. The mystic does not create distance from others or, an abstract life but, rather approaches other people, so that they may begin to see and act with God’s eyes and heart.
Catherine’s thought on purgatory, for which she is particularly well known, is summed up in the last two parts of the book mentioned above – The Treatise on Purgatory and the Dialogues between the body and the soul. The first original passage concerns the “place” of the purification of souls. In her day, it was depicted mainly using images linked to space – a certain space was conceived of, in which purgatory was supposed to be located. Catherine, however, did not see purgatory as a scene in the bowels of the earth – for her it is not an exterior but rather an interior fire. This is purgatory – an inner fire. The Saint speaks of the Soul’s journey of purification on the way to full communion with God, starting from her own experience of profound sorrow for the sins committed, in comparison with God’s infinite love (cf. Vita Mirabile, 171v).
We heard of the moment of conversion when Catherine suddenly became aware of God’s goodness, of the infinite distance of her own life from this goodness and of a burning fire within her. And this is the fire that purifies, the interior fire of purgatory. Here too, is an original feature in comparison with the thought of her time. In fact, she does not start with the afterlife in order to recount the torments of purgatory — as was the custom in her time and perhaps still is today — and then to point out the way to purification or conversion. Rather our Saint begins with the inner experience of her own life on the way to Eternity.
“The soul,” Catherine says, “presents itself to God, still bound to the desires and suffering that derive from sin and this makes it impossible for it to enjoy the beatific vision of God.” Catherine asserts that God is so pure and holy, that a soul stained by sin, cannot be in the presence of the Divine Majesty (cf. Vita Mirabile, 177r).
We too feel how distant we are, how full we are of so many things that we cannot see God. The soul is aware of the immense love and perfect justice of God and consequently, suffers for having failed to respond in a correct and perfect way to this love and, love for God itself, becomes a flame, love itself cleanses it from the residue of sin.
In Catherine we can make out the presence of theological and mystical sources on which it was normal to draw in her time. In particular, we find an image typical of Dionysius the Areopagite – the thread of gold that links the human heart to God Himself. When God purified man, he bound him with the finest golden thread, that is, His love and draws him toward Himself with such strong affection, that man i,s as it were “overcome and won over and completely beside himself.” Thus man’s heart is pervaded by God’s love that becomes the one guide, the one driving force of his life (cf. Vita Mirabile, 246rv). This situation of being uplifted towards God and of surrender to His will, expressed in the image of the thread, is used by Catherine to express the action of divine light on the souls in purgatory, a light that purifies and raises them to the splendour of the shining radiance of God (cf. Vita Mirabile, 179r).
With her life, St Catherine teaches us that the more we love God and enter into intimacy with Him in prayer the more He makes Himself known to us, setting our hearts on fire with His love. In writing about purgatory, the Saint reminds us of a fundamental truth of faith that becomes for us an invitation to pray for the deceased, so that they may attain the beatific vision of God in the Communion of Saints.
Moreover, the humble, faithful and generous service in Pammatone Hospital that the Saint rendered throughout her life, is a shining example of charity for all and an encouragement, especially for women who, with their precious work enriched by their sensitivity and attention to the poorest and neediest, make a fundamental contribution to society and to the Church.
Catherine’s writings were examined by the Holy Office and declared to contain doctrine that would alone be enough to prove her sanctity and she was accordingly Beatified in 1675 by Pope Clement X and Canonised in 1737 by Pope Clement XII. Her writings also, became sources of inspiration for other religious leaders such as Robert Bellarmine and Francis de Sales and Cardinal Henry Edward Manning. Pope Pius XII declared her Patroness of the hospitals in Italy.
When she died, her body was placed in a coffin in the Chapel of the hospital where she had served so selflessly. The wooden coffin unfortunately suffered water damage, yet after it was removed, a year later, the body itself was found to be incorrupt. Her body was later transferred to the Capuchin Convent Annunziata di Portoria, near the centre of Genoa and can be viewed by the public, in the Church attached to the Convent.
St Porphyrius the Martyr St Ribert St Ritbert of Varennes Bl Rolando de Medici Bl Tommasuccio of Foligno St Valerian of Châlon-sur-Saône St Valerian of Noviodunum St Vitus of Bergamo Bl Wladyslaw Miegon — Martyrs of Adrianopolis – 3 saints: Three Christian men martyred together in the persecutions of Maximian – Asclepiodotus, Maximus and Theodore. They were martyred in 310 at Adrianopolis (Adrianople), a location in modern Bulgaria.
Martyrs of Noviodunum – 4 saints: Three Christian men martyred together, date unknown – Gordian, Macrinus, Stratone and Valerian. They were martyred in Noviodunum, Lower Moesia (near modern Isaccea, Romania).
Mercedarian Martyrs of Morocco – 6 beati: A group of six Mercedarians who were captured by Moors near Valencia, Spain and taken to Morocco. Though enslaved, they refused to stop preaching Christianity. Martyrs. – Dionisio, Francis, Ildefonso, James, John and Sancho. They were crucified in 1437 in Morocco.
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War: Bl Antonio Sierra Leyva Bl Pascual Penades Jornet